The Google Now Launcher is Google’s own version of what an Android launcher should look like, and how it should work. Originally launched on the Nexus 5, it was then placed on the Play Store for others to download.
It’s mostly pretty good, and if you’ve fully bought into Google’s services then it is the most convenient of all the launchers. However it is also very limited in options. Unlike ultra-customisable launchers like Nova—which can actually replicate the look and feel of GNL—it has few settings to configure, and what you see is pretty much what you get.
As always, though, there’s an Xposed module that can fix this. It’s called Xposed GEL Settings, and is available for rooted devices running the Xposed Framework.
Let’s take a look.
Install Xposed GEL Settings
Set up and install the Xposed Framework on your rooted device, then head to the Download section and install Xposed GEL Settings. You can also download it from the Play Store, if you prefer. Once done activate it through the Modules panel and then reboot your phone to complete the installation. Now find the Xposed GEL Settings icon and launch the app.
Simple GNL tweaks
Work through the various options in the order they are shown. Starting with the General section you can perform some basic tweaks to the launcher. These include hiding the page indicator from the home screen and app drawer, making every widget resizable (simply long press on them to do this) and adding a shortcut to these settings with a long press of the Apps icon.
Rotate the Android homescreen
The home screen on the iPhone 6 Plus can be rotated into landscape mode, unlike that on most phones.
You can make this happen in the Google Now Launcher too through the Rotate option. You will probably have to reboot afterwards, and note that some widgets don’t work so well in landscape mode. You’ll need to test to see how well this feature works for you.
Restarting the launcher
Each time you change a setting you will need to tap Restart Launcher in order to activate it. It’s a good idea to do this and check the effect of every tweak on a case by case basis, rather than making a whole load of changes in one go. This also makes it easier to undo changes you don’t like, or that don’t work as expected.
Some of the more advanced changes will require a full reboot instead.
Hide the Google Search Bar
The Google search bar is a permanent fixture of the GNL, but it can be removed through the Xposed module by tapping the Hide option.
This will have the additional consequence of adding extra pixels to each row on your home screen, shifting all the icons and widgets up in the process. Some may fall out of position entirely, so you may need to spend a few moments moving them all back into place.
More GNL tweaks
In the Homescreen section switch the Enable setting to On. You can now resize the icon grid, making more or less space for apps and widgets. This will completely break your existing layout, so you should back it up if you think you might want to revert back.
The app icons in the Google Now Launcher are larger than they are in most every other Android launcher. Set Enable changes to icons to On and then set the icon size to 85%. This brings them more into line with the Android of old. If you’ve made your grid larger too you can fit them in better this way.
The grid and icon size settings are also available for the App Drawer, as well as the ability to hide certain apps. This is a handy way of ridding the drawer of apps you don’t want but which are unsafe to disable or remove.
Last of all, there’s gestures. These are essential for one handed use of a large screen phone. There are many that you can experiment with. We like the swipe down left option, which opens the notifications with a short swipe from anywhere down the left hand side of the home screen—you don’t need to swipe from the status bar at the top.
Restore your settings
You should always back up your settings before performing any significant tweaks within this module, since some will completely break your existing home screen layout, in a manner that cannot be restored without loading a backup.
Tap Export to do this (and then Import to restore a previous backup). You can also tap Rest to undo any changes you’ve made and get the Google Now Launcher back to its original state.